I was only three steps away from my car towards the entrance of FUNC Fitness when a smiling dude in a baseball cap came out of the door to greet me with a handshake, an introduction and a warm welcome. Well, I thought to myself, that’s a good start. As I came through the door of what is essentially a warehouse style space full of gear both familiar and unfamiliar, I was approached by another smiling dude (minus the cap but with an impressive beard) and an equally friendly handshake, intro and greeting. Talk about putting a girl at ease.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. My dealings with FUNC so far had been with the lovely Ree. I’d emailed off my interest in their two week trial arrangement – a week long trial is offered to all comers, but I’d lucked in on a special extended trial opportunity – and the very next morning got a phone call from her to discuss how this would work. No standard, one-size-fits-all email like you might expect. Actually, having just typed that last sentence, I think it’s true of my whole FUNC experience: not one-size-fits-all. Anyway, Ree explained that all trials begin with a Monday evening introductory session, followed by an actual FUNC session in the gym.
So there I was, filling out my intro form while watching the last bit of the FUNC session in progress. I’ll admit, though Dave (of the cap) and AJ (of the beard) had removed most of the intimidation factor straight off the bat, I was still a bit apprehensive, because holy cow what were they doing with those rubber bands and how the hell she just do that?
There were I think seven of us at the intro session that Monday night, all in various states of fitness, age, shape and size, though only one bloke, and we traipsed upstairs to a little loft to have our introductory lecture from Dave. It seems too formal to say lecture, nor does presentation quite describe it, but in this session Dave shared with us his and FUNC’s philosophy about health and nutrition. It’s not called Functional Fitness for nothing – the focus is on moving our bodies the way they are meant to, that is efficiently, safely, naturally. I’ll give you an example: you can spend hours honing your biceps with repetitive bicep curls until they are rock-solid domes but can you think of a time when you’ve ever had to use a bicep-curl movement outside of the gym? I can’t. No, FUNC is about training, or in some cases re-training, your body to work to better, more natural movement patterns. This is the goal, it really is not about how you look but how you move. That said, as Dave put it, if you’re moving well and eating well, it’s going to be hard not to look better nude.
There are a range of sessions to try at FUNC. There is the aptly named FUNC session, you could think of this as the standard I guess, plus sessions focussing on mobility, weights, gymnastic style movement, there’s even Parkour. There are weekend ‘Adventure’ sessions at different outdoor locations, and the Woden FUNC gyms sports a proper boxing ring too – but no mirrors. There are no mirrors at either the Mitchell or Woden location actually, no treadmills, no cable-machines and no elliptical steppers. Colour me happy.
I had three FUNC sessions and one mobility session during my trial. Every session was a lesson, and I mean that in a good way. While it is slightly embarrassing to be the only one in the group – and these are small groups, capped at seven per session – who wasn’t allowed to use the weights bar until Dave was happy with my squat form (then AJ did the same to me with the bench press), it’s actually reassuring. This is not lift and push and lift again at all costs scenario. Imagine my surprise when told to ‘take a longer break’ in between pull-ups to allow my fatigued muscles a better chance. This was not what I was expecting. Incidentally, pull-ups are something I have never been able to manage before. At FUNC, they are performed with the assistance of a giant rubber band if needed and I can’t tell you how cool it was to finally be able to do not one, but thirty-odd in total on my very first night – thank you giant rubber band! I know it’s not the same as unassisted pull-ups but Rome wasn’t built in one day and all that…
The mobility session was an eye-opener too. I didn’t know what to expect, maybe something involving lying down and having a gentle stretch or something. Er, no. The mobility session – led by Mick – was more like the exercises and stretches you might get from a physiotherapist or chiropractor – you know, the ones where you jam an unforgivingly hard ball into a soft place and then roll around on it, or stretch over it or whatever. It’s the kind of thing that could leave a mark for a couple of hours but my word what a feeling when it’s done! I felt straighter and looser right away. I would go back for more of that one.
It was during the mobility session that I got to witness the gymnastics-theme session, cleverly called JIM. This involved rings and swinging and lifting and looked like a lot of fun, I was bummed that I hadn’t managed to schedule one in.
During my intro session that first night, I made a pretty bad joke about how FUNC began with ‘fun’ – my apologies to those who had to hear it. That said, you know, it was as much fun as I’ve ever had in a gym-style setting. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard work and there was one day when it hurt to even lift my arms to apply deodorant the morning after. On the topic of hard work, bear in mind that yes, it’s intense, but the intensity is relative to you – if you’re a beginner, nobody is going to expect you go so hard that you vomit, or anything ridiculous like that. In fact, I noticed one morning that the two groups training concurrently were labelled ‘safe’ and ‘strong’ (I was in the ‘safe’ group, but I have ambition towards ‘strong’). Like I said, this isn’t one-size-fits-all. I have a frustrating knee injury at the moment, for example. Each session I just mentioned it and we were able to train around it, by modifying the exercises. Here I should also mention that each session was different, nothing same-same boring here.
One thing in particular struck me about FUNC Fitness, besides the fact that they clearly know what they are doing, and it was something I really liked. Every single person I met there was friendly. Fellow FUNCers introduce themselves by name at the start of the session, you get high fives and fist-bumps after a session, people are smiling and laughing as they go – even at the 5.30am session I went to. If you’re worried that FUNC is a place full of muscle-bound lycra-babes posing and/or grunting their I’m-too-sexy way through a workout, don’t be (but I’m not going to lie, I did spy some impressive muscles). It’s normal people, I promise. You will fit in. You will feel good. I’d go back in a heartbeat.
I normally don’t blow my cover when I’m doing reviews – for impartiality reasons. This time I did show my hand in order to source some photos for this piece. As a result, FUNC Fitness have offered to extend a free two week trial to any readers who mention this review. I say go for it.
You can contact FUNC Fitness via their website: http://funcfitness.com.au/